A garrote or garrote vil (a Spanish
Spanish language
Spanish , also known as Castilian , is a Romance language in the Ibero-Romance group that evolved from several languages and dialects in central-northern Iberia around the 9th century and gradually spread with the expansion of the Kingdom of Castile into central and southern Iberia during the...

 word; alternative spellings include garotte and garrotte) is a handheld weapon
A weapon, arm, or armament is a tool or instrument used with the aim of causing damage or harm to living beings or artificial structures or systems...

, most often referring to a ligature
Ligature (medicine)
In surgery or medical procedure, a ligature consists of a piece of thread tied around an anatomical structure, usually a blood vessel or another hollow structure to shut it off. With a blood vessel the surgeon will clamp the vessel perpendicular to the axis of the artery or vein with a hemostat,...

 of chain
A chain is a sequence of connected links.Chain may also refer to:Chain may refer to:* Necklace - a jewelry which is worn around the neck* Mail , a type of armor made of interlocking chain links...

, rope
A rope is a length of fibres, twisted or braided together to improve strength for pulling and connecting. It has tensile strength but is too flexible to provide compressive strength...

, scarf
A scarf is a piece of fabric worn around the neck, or near the head or around the waist for warmth, cleanliness, fashion or for religious reasons. They can come in a variety of different colours.-History:...

, wire
A wire is a single, usually cylindrical, flexible strand or rod of metal. Wires are used to bear mechanical loads and to carry electricity and telecommunications signals. Wire is commonly formed by drawing the metal through a hole in a die or draw plate. Standard sizes are determined by various...

 or fishing line used to strangle someone.

Assassination weapon

The garrotte has been used for centuries as a means of silent assassination
To carry out an assassination is "to murder by a sudden and/or secret attack, often for political reasons." Alternatively, assassination may be defined as "the act of deliberately killing someone, especially a public figure, usually for hire or for political reasons."An assassination may be...

. It was widely employed in 17th and 18th century India as an assassination weapon, particularly by the Thuggee
Thuggee is the term for a particular kind of murder and robbery of travellers in South Asia and particularly in India.They are sometimes called Phansigar i.e...

 cult. Practitioners used a yellow silk or cloth scarf called a Rumaal. A garrote can be made out of many different materials, including ropes, tie wraps
Cable tie
A cable tie, also known as a zip tie or tie-wrap , is a type of fastener, especially for binding several electronic cables or wires together and to organize cables and wires.-Design and use:...

, fishing lines, nylon
Nylon is a generic designation for a family of synthetic polymers known generically as polyamides, first produced on February 28, 1935, by Wallace Carothers at DuPont's research facility at the DuPont Experimental Station...

, and even guitar
The guitar is a plucked string instrument, usually played with fingers or a pick. The guitar consists of a body with a rigid neck to which the strings, generally six in number, are attached. Guitars are traditionally constructed of various woods and strung with animal gut or, more recently, with...

Strings (music)
A string is the vibrating element that produces sound in string instruments, such as the guitar, harp, piano, and members of the violin family. Strings are lengths of a flexible material kept under tension so that they may vibrate freely, but controllably. Strings may be "plain"...

, telephone cord and piano wire
Piano wire
Piano wire, or "music wire", is a specialized type of wire made for use in piano strings, as well as many other purposes. It is made from tempered high-carbon steel, also known as spring steel.-Manufacture and use:...

. The Indian version of the garrote frequently incorporates a knot at the center intended to aid in crushing the larynx while applying pressure to the victim's back, usually by means of a foot or knee.

Some incidents have involved a stick used to tighten the garrote; the Spanish name actually refers to that very rod, so it is a pars pro toto
Pars pro toto
Pars pro toto is Latin for "a part for the whole" where the name of a portion of an object or concept represents the entire object or context....

where the eponymous component may actually be absent. In Spanish, the name can also be applied to a rope and stick used to compress a member as a torture device or to reanimate the victim.

Since World War II the garrote has been regularly employed as a special weapon by soldiers as a silent means of eliminating sentries and other enemy personnel. Instruction in the use of purpose-built and improvised garrottes is included in the training of many elite military units and special forces. A typical military garrote consists of two wooden handles attached to a length of flexible wire; the wire is looped over a sentry's head and pulled taut in one motion. In the French Foreign Legion
Foreign legion
Foreign legion or Foreign Legion is a title which has been used by a small number of military units composed of foreign volunteers.It usually refers to the French Foreign Legion, part of the French Army established in 1831.It can also refer to:...

, la loupe, a special form of double-loop garrote is used, where a double coil of rope or cord is dropped around a sentry's neck then the cord is pulled taut. Even if the sentry pulls on one of the coils, he only succeeds in tightening the other.

Execution device

The garrote was the principal form of execution device used in Spain
Spain , officially the Kingdom of Spain languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Spain's official name is as follows:;;;;;;), is a country and member state of the European Union located in southwestern Europe on the Iberian Peninsula...

 for hundreds of years. Originally, it was an execution where the convict was killed by hitting him with a club (garrote in Spanish). This later developed into a strangulation device, where the condemned was tied to a wooden stake, with a loop of rope placed around his neck. A wooden stick was placed in the loop, and by rotating the stick, the rope was tightened until the condemned person was strangled to death. As time went on, the execution method was modified in the form of a wooden chair to which the condemned was bound, while the executioner
A judicial executioner is a person who carries out a death sentence ordered by the state or other legal authority, which was known in feudal terminology as high justice.-Scope and job:...

 tightened a metal band around his/her neck with a crank or a wheel until suffocation
Suffocation is the process of Asphyxia.Suffocation may also refer to:* Suffocation , an American death metal band* "Suffocation", a song on Morbid Angel's debut album, Altars of Madness...

 of the condemned person was accomplished.
Other versions of this device incorporated a fixed metal blade
A blade is that portion of a tool, weapon, or machine with a cutting edge and/or a pointed tip that is designed to cut and/or puncture, stab, slash, chop, slice, thrust, or scrape animate or inanimate surfaces or materials...

 or spike directed at the spinal cord
Spinal cord
The spinal cord is a long, thin, tubular bundle of nervous tissue and support cells that extends from the brain . The brain and spinal cord together make up the central nervous system...

 to hasten the breaking of the neck. Such a device can be seen in the James Bond
James Bond
James Bond, code name 007, is a fictional character created in 1953 by writer Ian Fleming, who featured him in twelve novels and two short story collections. There have been a six other authors who wrote authorised Bond novels or novelizations after Fleming's death in 1964: Kingsley Amis,...

 films The World Is Not Enough
The World Is Not Enough
The World Is Not Enough is the nineteenth spy film in the James Bond film series, and the third to star Pierce Brosnan as the fictional MI6 agent James Bond. The film was directed by Michael Apted, with the original story and screenplay written by Neal Purvis, Robert Wade and Bruce Feirstein. It...

, The Living Daylights
The Living Daylights
The Living Daylights is the fifteenth entry in the James Bond series and the first to star Timothy Dalton as the fictional MI6 agent 007. The film's title is taken from Ian Fleming's short story, "The Living Daylights"...

, and From Russia with Love
From Russia with Love (film)
From Russia with Love is the second in the James Bond spy film series, and the second to star Sean Connery as the fictional MI6 agent James Bond. Released in 1963, the film was produced by Albert R. Broccoli and Harry Saltzman, and directed by Terence Young. It is based on the 1957 novel of the...

as well as the Bandaras/Jolie film, Original Sin. The spiked version, called the Catalan garrote, was used as late as 1940 (as well as being used by other Spanish colonies until shortly after the 1898 Spanish-American War
Spanish-American War
The Spanish–American War was a conflict in 1898 between Spain and the United States, effectively the result of American intervention in the ongoing Cuban War of Independence...

American authorities chose to keep the garrote in the Philippines
The Philippines , officially known as the Republic of the Philippines , is a country in Southeast Asia in the western Pacific Ocean. To its north across the Luzon Strait lies Taiwan. West across the South China Sea sits Vietnam...

 after that Spanish colony was captured in 1898, and its use was not abolished until 1902 (Act No. 451, passed September 2, 1902). The most notable victims of the garrote in the Philippines were the trio of native priests, the Gomburza
Gomburza or GOMBURZA is an acronym denoting the surnames of the priests Mariano Gómez, José Apolonio Burgos, and Jacinto Zamora, three Filipino priests who were executed on 17 February 1872 at Bagumbayan in Manila, Philippines by Spanish colonial authorities on charges of subversion arising from...

, for their alleged participation in the Cavite Mutiny
Cavite Mutiny
The Cavite Mutiny of 1872 was an uprising of military personnel of Fort San Felipe, the Spanish arsenal in Cavite, Philippines on January 20, 1872. Around 200 soldiers and laborers rose up in the belief that it would elevate to a national uprising...


In the Ottoman Empire
Ottoman Empire
The Ottoman EmpireIt was usually referred to as the "Ottoman Empire", the "Turkish Empire", the "Ottoman Caliphate" or more commonly "Turkey" by its contemporaries...

, execution by strangulation was reserved for very high officials and members of the ruling family. Unlike the Spanish version, a bowstring was used instead of a tightening collar.

The garrote is known to have been used in the first century BC in Rome. It is referred to in accounts of the Catiline
Lucius Sergius Catilina , known in English as Catiline, was a Roman politician of the 1st century BC who is best known for the Catiline conspiracy, an attempt to overthrow the Roman Republic, and in particular the power of the aristocratic Senate.-Family background:Catiline was born in 108 BC to...

 conspiracy, where conspirators including Publius Cornelius Lentulus Sura were strangled with a laqueus in the Tullianum, and the implement is shown in some early reliefs, e.g., Répertoire de Reliefs grecs et romains, tome I, p. 341 (1919).
It was also used in the Middle Ages
Middle Ages
The Middle Ages is a periodization of European history from the 5th century to the 15th century. The Middle Ages follows the fall of the Western Roman Empire in 476 and precedes the Early Modern Era. It is the middle period of a three-period division of Western history: Classic, Medieval and Modern...

 in Spain
Spain , officially the Kingdom of Spain languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Spain's official name is as follows:;;;;;;), is a country and member state of the European Union located in southwestern Europe on the Iberian Peninsula...

 and Portugal
Portugal , officially the Portuguese Republic is a country situated in southwestern Europe on the Iberian Peninsula. Portugal is the westernmost country of Europe, and is bordered by the Atlantic Ocean to the West and South and by Spain to the North and East. The Atlantic archipelagos of the...

. It was employed during the conquista
Conquista may refer to:*La Conquista: Spanish colonization of the Americas*Conquista, Minas Gerais, city in Brazil*Conquista, Andalusia, town in Spain...

of Latin America, as attested by the execution of the Inca emperor Atahualpa
Atahualpa, Atahuallpa, Atabalipa, or Atawallpa , was the last Sapa Inca or sovereign emperor of the Tahuantinsuyu, or the Inca Empire, prior to the Spanish conquest of Peru...


During the Peninsular War of 1808-1814, French forces regularly used the garrote to execute Spanish guerrilleros, priests, and other opponents to Napoleonic rule. Around 1810 the earliest known metallic garrote appeared in Spain, and on 28 April 1828, the garrote would be declared the sole method of executing civilians in that country.

In May 1897, the last public garroting was carried out in Spain, in Barcelona
Barcelona is the second largest city in Spain after Madrid, and the capital of Catalonia, with a population of 1,621,537 within its administrative limits on a land area of...

. After that, all executions would be held in private inside prisons (even if the press took photos of some of them).

In 1935 in Spain the legislature adopted a law prohibiting any member of the armed forces from being a Freemason. When the Spanish Civil War began in 1936, the Grand Orient moved its headquarters to Brussels (later moving to Mexico). Part of the result of this edict ended with 80 Masons being garroted to death in Málaga.

The last civilian
A civilian under international humanitarian law is a person who is not a member of his or her country's armed forces or other militia. Civilians are distinct from combatants. They are afforded a degree of legal protection from the effects of war and military occupation...

 executions in Spain were those of Pilar Prades in May 1959 and José María Járabo
José María Jarabo
José María Manuel Pablo de la Cruz Jarabo Pérez Morris: was a Spanish spree killer who between July 19 and July 21, 1958 murdered four adults and an unborn baby.-Early life:...

 in July 1959. Recent legislation had made many crimes belong to military legislation
Military law
Military justice is the body of laws and procedures governing members of the armed forces. Many states have separate and distinct bodies of law that govern the conduct of members of their armed forces. Some states use special judicial and other arrangements to enforce those laws, while others use...

 (like robbery-murder); thus, for some years, prosecutors would rarely request civilian executions. Several executions would still be carried out in Spain, eight of them in the 1970s: the January 1972 firing-squad execution of robber-murderer Pedro Martínez Expósito, a soldier; the March 1974 garrotings of Heinz Ches (real name Georg Michael Welzel) and Salvador Puig Antich
Salvador Puig Antich
Salvador Puig Antich was a Spanish anarchist, born in Barcelona, and active during the 1960s. A member of the Movimiento Ibérico de Liberación , he was executed by the Francoist regime after being tried by a military tribunal and found guilty of the death of a Guardia Civil policeman...

, both accused of killing police officers (theirs were the last state-sanctioned garrotings in Spain and in the world); and the firing-squad executions of five militants from ETA
ETA , an acronym for Euskadi Ta Askatasuna is an armed Basque nationalist and separatist organization. The group was founded in 1959 and has since evolved from a group promoting traditional Basque culture to a paramilitary group with the goal of gaining independence for the Greater Basque Country...

 and FRAP
Frente Revolucionario Antifascista y Patriótico
The Frente Revolucionario Antifascista y Patriótico , sometimes also called Frente Revolucionario Antifascista y Patriota , better known by its acronym FRAP, was a radical Spanish Marxist-Leninist revolutionary organization that operated in the 1970s.-History:FRAP began operating around 1971 in the...

 in September 1975.

With the 1973 Penal Code, prosecutors once again started requesting execution in civilian cases. If the death penalty had not been abolished in 1978 after dictator Francisco Franco
Francisco Franco
Francisco Franco y Bahamonde was a Spanish general, dictator and head of state of Spain from October 1936 , and de facto regent of the nominally restored Kingdom of Spain from 1947 until his death in November, 1975...

's death, civilian executions would most likely have resumed. The last man to be sentenced to death by garroting was José Luis Cerveto el asesino de Pedralbes in October 1977, for a double robbery-murder in May 1974 (he was also a paedophile). He requested that the democratic government execute him, but his sentence was commuted
Commutation of sentence
Commutation of sentence involves the reduction of legal penalties, especially in terms of imprisonment. Unlike a pardon, a commutation does not nullify the conviction and is often conditional. Clemency is a similar term, meaning the lessening of the penalty of the crime without forgiving the crime...

. Another prisoner whose civilian death sentence was commuted by the new government was businessman Juan Ballot, for the murder for hire of his wife in Navarre in November 1973.

In Spain, the garrote was abolished in 1978 along with the death penalty after adoption of a new constitution. The writer Camilo José Cela
Camilo José Cela
Camilo José Cela y Trulock, 1st Marquis of Iria Flavia was a Spanish novelist and short story writer. He was awarded the 1989 Nobel Prize in Literature "for a rich and intensive prose, which with restrained compassion forms a challenging vision of man's vulnerability".-Biography:Cela published his...

 requested from the Consejo General del Poder Judicial a garrote to display in his foundation. It was kept in storage in Barcelona
Barcelona is the second largest city in Spain after Madrid, and the capital of Catalonia, with a population of 1,621,537 within its administrative limits on a land area of...

 and probably had been used for Puig Antich
Salvador Puig Antich
Salvador Puig Antich was a Spanish anarchist, born in Barcelona, and active during the 1960s. A member of the Movimiento Ibérico de Liberación , he was executed by the Francoist regime after being tried by a military tribunal and found guilty of the death of a Guardia Civil policeman...


It was displayed for a time in the room that the Cela Foundation devoted to his novel La familia de Pascual Duarte until Puig Antich's family asked for its removal.

Andorra , officially the Principality of Andorra , also called the Principality of the Valleys of Andorra, , is a small landlocked country in southwestern Europe, located in the eastern Pyrenees mountains and bordered by Spain and France. It is the sixth smallest nation in Europe having an area of...

, in 1990, was the last country to abolish the death penalty by garroting, though this method had been unused there since the late 19th century, and the only execution in Andorra in the 20th century, that of Antoni Arenis for fratricide
Fratricide is the act of a person killing his or her brother....

 in 1943, was carried out by firing squad because of the unavailability of a garrote executioner at that moment.
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